JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The sprint to the legislative finish line in Jefferson City is on. With just over a week left in this legislative session, lawmakers are facing hard deadlines to enact their agenda – and to agree on a state budget.
In this week’s edition of the KMZU Capitol Conversation, Rep. Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe), from the 7th District, told KMZU’s Brian Lock that while a budget will surely get passed by Friday at 6:00 p.m., he has a less rosy outlook on other legislative priorities.
Click below to hear their conversation, which aired Wednesday morning on KMZU.
“[The budget committee process] was pretty good, there were of course differences of opinion whenever we took, maybe, the House side versus the Senate side,” Rep. Black explained. “Education funding, which is a pretty important thing up in our area, it’s something people ask me about, the conference committee took the house position on that so the formula will be fully funded.”
A total of $110 million in education funding is in the bill, set to be voted on again Wednesday in the House, including a $10 million increase for transportation funding.
“There was, I believe, $10 million added back into transportation funding,” Black said. “Certainly peopled will say it’s not enough, but it is a lot more than where we were at, so it should have a positive impact.”
Historically, the Missouri House has approved budgets which exceed revenues while the Senate has classically cut a more trim budget, but Rep. Black said that the budget committee chairperson, Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (R- ) has made it his mission to pass a balanced budget which remains revenue neutral.
“If we send a budget to the governor that is underneath the projected income, the governor doesn’t have to pull money out and is not allowed to pull money out of different programs,” Black stated. “It’s whenever the income doesn’t reach expectations, or we budget above what expectations are at the very beginning, that all governors have had the right to go in and pull stuff – they have to go some place and balance the budget.”
Black also said he reached a compromise regarding the per deim fees paid by the state to Missouri counties for maintaining jail populations, however said “some of it ended up good, but I don’t know if necessarily everyone is going to be happy with what the compromise ended up with.”
Tax cuts have also been on lawmakers’ lips this legislative session. Governor Eric Greitens (R) vowed during his State of the State address in January to enact “the boldest tax reform in America.”
In the legislature, the idea of tax cuts in the state on the heels of tax cuts and reform at the federal level in 2017 enticed many Republicans, who have control of nearly all levers of Missouri government.